10 Questions with Venus
Venus aka Holly O'neill has a long standing relationship with our club in many ways, either on the dance floor, in the booth or behind the scenes booking a weekly party known as Club Late. This Saturday is her first show back since moving north and we have given her full reign of the line up! Venus has done it all in the dance music realm, working with the Purple Sneakers crew, holding a residency on Nomad Radio running grit&gloss and playing festivals like Splendour In The Grass. Joining her on the night are a number of hand selected regulars from the local scene.
I recently caught up with Venus to get an insight into her history here in Eora and importance of club culture.
Venus, hi, how are you? What have you been up to lately?
HELLO! yeah nm u?
Stepping up to the plate at the iconic sevs next weekend, how long has it been since you last played there & what do you love about the place?
I’m so excited to return, it’s actually been years now like not since pre-pandemic times! That would have been my last Club Late party in early 2020. Something I love about 77 is that it’s Such a night club. Like the night clubbiest I think I’d ever been to, from the art on the walls to the disgusting toilets to the lights that are only ever red. Granted it’s been so long since I’ve been that the venue’s probably made a few changes, but thats another thing I love about it - its growth. The venue has seen Eora’s/Sydney’s nightlife evolve so much over the past 20 years, hosted so many legendary parties and artists, worked through lockout laws, a pandemic and covid restrictions and keeps growing and renovating and changing along the way so Sevs is constantly evolving too!
You have a bit of history with the club booking the club late parties, can you tell me a little more about them?
I was brought on by the 77 team to help reenergise the club going community’s relationship to the venue with a weekly party of big fun dance music, and we christened it Club Late. Not a lot of other venues were doing weekly parties at the time, more relying on variety to entice punters but residencies and weeklies used to be the Only way clubs ran once upon a time. Maybe in a post-lockouts clubbing climate it was a wistful idea that it would catch on quickly, but I wholeheartedly believe if it wasn’t squashed by covid Club Late would still be pumping every Friday.
Club Late was a collaboration with me and the Sevs crew who were so important in organising the behind the scenes of the event, and who solidly believed in me and my programming when I was riddled with imposter syndrome. I was excited to program DJ’s who’d never played at the club or imagined themselves being able to. At that time 77 was seen as this club with heaps of history, but was going through a bit of a rough patch connecting to their audience. But I wanted people to approach the venue differently, and I wanted the venue to approach the party differently too. It was exciting to help shape Sevs into the venue that it is today through Club Late, and to help them think deeply about what people want from their local venue - a safe place for self expression, community, solidarity and to fucking let loooose.
You're headlining a line up of artists who have been making a name for themselves in Eora lately, is there anyone in particular you are looking forward to see play?
Not to be that person but… everyone?! Everybody on the lineup is a pal of mine and a selector I Love. It’s been so long since I’ve seen many of them play, a few of them I’ve booked for Club Late back in the day and even imagined them as residents eventually. Jebbi is the only artist I haven’t already seen play so I’m mega excited to see her kill it, and hearing all the choppy club, fun edits and mad drums from Isa, Johnny Lieu, Fried Pork Chop and our ~ Secret Guest ~ is going to be just as exciting!! Nobody check my pockets, my phone will be shazaming all night I need those IDs.
Having been part the Purple Sneakers crew and playing a number of shows in the city, you have a strong history with the local dance scene, how do you think it has bounced back in the last year or so?
When I was living in Eora/Sydney I had a strong connection to the scene coz I was deep in it, sadly because I actually haven’t been back since I moved up to Meanjin/Brisbane my current relationship to the scene is a bit more parasocial. But even from the outside it feels super exciting!! Sometimes I actually can’t check instagram because the stories I’m seeing of venues packed to the rafters, more crews taking up the mantle and running community oriented events, and clips being posted until the sun comes up just give me so much fomo. It seems to be the nightlife we were all dreaming of as DJs operating at the time of lockout laws, everyone wants to party again and venues are free from lockout and covid restrictions.
But social media isn’t real life though, and as much as it all looks amazing there’s no doubt a new wave of issues in the scene. DJs and promoters with zero self awareness or community mindedness, punters who aren’t used to respectfully moving through party spaces, venues who have made it through covid with the help of corporate partnership with little interest in cultural capital just to name a few. Now there’s extra cash to be made and a massive appetite for club culture again in Eora, a mindfulness of the culture you’re interacting with has to be prioritised. Dance music historically has been created and shaped by queer folks and people of colour, if your lineups/ your selections/your dancefloors don’t reflect that maybe it’s time to do some self reflecting.
You have also held a residency on Nomad Radio, which has recently found a new studio to record from, how important do you think community radio like this is for those looking to make a name for themselves in this city or even to gain experience playing music in a ‘live situation’ do you think It has helped you?
It’s super important to have these accessible community spaces to build the kinds of specialty skills and relationships necessary to being in the industry. Dance music is all about community and being able to share knowledge, track IDs, opportunities and a love of music in a not nightclub/party setting is also super important. Plus sound equipment is expensiiiive, being able to volunteer your time to get access to the tools and specialty training to use them is a big part of the appeal too. Shouts out to Eora’s great community radio culture with stations like Nomad Radio, FBi Radio, Koori Radio and Radio Skid Row who are all super essential to the city’s musical future!!
My show on Nomad Radio really helped push me out of my comfort zone and tested my anxieties every fortnight, plus helped me stretch the definition of what Venus even was. Radio is a totally different experience to playing live gigs, it’s just you, the mic and the decks a lot of the time so you can be really thoughtful about it all and way more self indulgent.
What should the punters expect come Saturday night at Sevs?
To sweat 😈
Your DJ mixes present a very versatile soundscape, always with a pulsing club mood to it but combining other elements such as a more poppy sound, how would you describe your influence?
Biggest influence of them all is The Party energy, tapping into something that connects to an audience but isn’t holding their hand too much while also showing them something they never knew they needed. And it’s usually big drums, jittery techno, slutty vocals, and a good sprinkling of cheesy throwbacks. Too many club genres to name but anything with syncopated drums, big bass and will make you dance hard and fast is the go! Other DJs influence me heaps too, Dameeela, Uniiqu3, Nina Las Vegas, Isa, DJ Swisha and Martyn Bootyspoon have always been inspos and a bunch of Meanjin favs like Scalymoth, Romindahouse, Theyphex Twins, DJGR3Y, and djsillygirl always have me feeling so energised every time I see em play!!
What are your main hobbies outside of music/deejaying?
I’m a biiig movie buff, never thought I’d go full movie wanker but I just have so many opinions and everyone must hear them. My big 4 on Letterboxd are Legally Blonde, The Thing, Alien and Josie and the Pussycats. Strong women and incredible practical effects, peak cinema.
Finally, what’s next for Venus? Any upcoming projects or things you are working towards?
To be honest, this booking is my first in a long long time so maybe the upcoming project is a return to DJing. The scene in Meanjin is so solid at the moment and coming into silly season there’s going to be so many parties and festivals and biiig weekends. I’ve been flirting with the idea of running a night of my own in Fortitude Valley too, I moved to Eora post lockout laws so I don’t know first hand but so many people say the Valley reminds them of Kings Cross at its peak. Having a little slice of that, and bringing a bunch of unexpecting punters into a weird dance space would be super exciting.
Venus plays this Saturday 29th October along a stacked line-up personally curated by her. Full event info can be found HERE